How to Focus on a Fresh Start

I always look forward to January 1st. It is symbolic of a fresh start – a clean slate – a chance to right the wrongs of the previous year.

However, I no longer participate in the tradition of setting New Year’s Resolutions. I always set the bar too high, expect too much, and set myself up for failure. By the end of the month I am more dejected than when I started. Who needs that?

For the past few years I have chosen instead to focus on a word of the year. The idea is to reflect on the previous year, anticipate the year ahead, and select one word that would help achieve a personal goal.

Words I have chosen in the past include balance, peace, and delight.

Molly's FUN imageAfter much reflection and prayer I decided my word for 2016 should be FUN. As someone who takes life too seriously and always puts duty before pleasure, I decided it was time to live life with the Joy of the Lord.

He is the one who gives us passions. He is the one who gives us talents. He wants us to use these gifts in a way that adds joy and happiness and yes, FUN in our lives as well as in the lives of others.

This was not an easy word to accept. I was immediately bombarded with thoughts of selfishness. After all, aren’t we always supposed to put others before ourselves?

But if the well is dry, there is no water to offer others. As the airline industry knows full well, we must take care of ourselves before we can offer assistance to others.

So this is the year I will drink water to quench my parched palate. This is the year I will fill the well so I can serve others with a heart of love rather than an attitude of duty.

I am learning, however, that this idea of FUN is not as much about choosing certain activities as it is about having a certain mindset.

A life of duty is governed by the word “should”: I should do this or I should do that or I should complete all work before play.

The tyranny of obligation led me to believe the only source of fun was to retreat into solitude and shut out the world.

So I have decided to abolish “should” from my vocabulary.

Instead of saying, “I should exercise” I will replace that mindset with “I want to exercise because I want to be strong and healthy enough to travel when I retire.”

Instead of saying, “I should fix dinner” I will say “I want to fix dinner because I enjoy cutting vegetables, experimenting with recipes, and eating whole foods.”

Instead of saying, “I should clean the house” I will instead proclaim, “I want to clean the house because I am grateful for adequate shelter and I enjoy an organized space.”

Do I expect to transform my thought process overnight? Of course not. I will fail, and fail, and fail again. Old habits die hard

But the beautiful thing about fresh starts is they aren’t limited to one day of the year.

I am offered a fresh start each morning I wake up. I can begin again at the top of each hour. Every minute offers the opportunity to start over.

January 1st may be the start of a new year, but God offers us a fresh start with every breath we take. Give yourself grace… and have some FUN.

©2016 Molly Totoro for GateWay of Hope

Molly Totoro is a writer who has a heart and passion for authentic living. She firmly believes “Everyone has a story to share.” Molly helps others write their stories to impact future generations. Follow Molly’s new blog series, “How to Journal” at Revising Life after 50.